by Chris Tobias
A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to carry Dragon into the black on December 4 for SpaceX’s next commercial cargo resupply mission to deliver several tons of supplies, equipment and science investigations to the International Space Station.
Liftoff is currently scheduled NET 12:51 p.m. EST (17:51 UTC) on Wednesday from LC-39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If the launch occurs on time, the launch pad will be almost directly underneath the orbital track of the ISS at liftoff due to the Earth’s rotation. The backup launch date is Thursday, December 5 if necessary.
The launch, SpaceX’s twelfth of the year, will feature a brand new Falcon 9 first stage booster. SpaceX plans to land and recover the first stage on their drone ship Of Course I Still Love You in the Atlantic Ocean so it can be refurbished for future use.
The Dragon capsule that will launch on December 4 flew twice previously to the space station on resupply missions in September of 2014 and June of 2017.
Among the more than one ton of scientific investigations being delivered to the International Space Station on this mission are 40 mice, which will aid in studies of muscular degradation during spaceflight and hopefully yield data that will help make future space missions– including long-range space missions– safer for humans.
If the mission launches on time, Dragon will arrive at the ISS on December 7, where it will remain until early January.
Those who wish to watch the launch can tune in to SpaceX’s live webcast of the mission, which should commence around 20 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com and on the company’s YouTube channel.
Peace, love and rockets…
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